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Mesa nonprofit working with feds to house 50 unaccompanied children

(Getty Images Photo/Joe Raedle)

PHOENIX — A Mesa-based nonprofit is working with the federal government to house up to 50 unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Child Crisis Arizona CEO Torrie Taj told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Tuesday that the group is working with children up to age 5.

“It was our approach that this was not a political issue for us at all. This was about serving children,” she said.

The nonprofit, which focuses on foster care and adoption, has navigated federal contracts before with its Early Head Start program, she said.

She said the nonprofit will be providing shelter and medical care to the unaccompanied children until they can be reunited with their parents.

“We are responsible for making sure that we get them with their sponsor or the family member, and that we reunify as fast as possible,” she said.

“We are making sure that we are checking DNA and the background checks and that it is a viable placement, or that it is truly the family of this child.”

Taj said the visuals of conditions in other migrant shelters across the country influenced her decision to pursue this new service.

“It’s been on the news for a long time, and nobody likes seeing those pictures,” she said.

Although the nonprofit is taking in more kids, she said, the new contract doesn’t mean the Arizonans they already serve will be neglected.

“We are not fundraising for this program, like we do for our state contracts,” she said.

“This new contract is 100% covering the cost of caring for those (unaccompanied) children.”

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